One year after he was re-appointed as the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has been rated below average by key players in the water sector.
Mr Adamu, who has been the minister of water resources since 2015, after the emergence of Muhammadu Buhari as the President of Nigeria has little or no achievements or success stories in the water sector, experts opine.
Mr Adamu was one of the 43 ministers appointed to head federal ministries on May 29, 2019.
One year after his reappointment, the minister’s performance was described as “woeful” by an expert in the water sector. Other experts, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said they were unable to rate him high, due to his dismal record.
Following his return as the minister, Mr Adamu said he would focus on consolidating on the gains during his first tenure, which rested on access to safe and potable water by Nigerians, and good sanitation and hygiene in the sector.
Reeling out his focus for his second tenure, Mr Adamu promised to develop and device plans, projects and programmes that will allow viable access to safe and adequate water to meet the various needs of Nigerians.
He also promised to put in place all necessary water development regulations and make sure all relevant policies are active and up to date.
Meanwhile, there were some promises that the minister carried over from his first tenure. These are:
– To ensure that, through the urban water sector reform programme, every Nigerian will have access to potable and sufficient water by the year 2030.
– To reform the 12 river basin development authorities.
– To regenerate irrigation projects across the country.
– To put an end to open defecation in Nigeria before the year 2025.
The ministry focused more on advocacy visits to states across the country to campaign against open defecation in the last one year. An industry expert said it was difficult to point any achievement in one last year.
On the bright side, the ministry under the leadership of Mr Adamu said it constructed 106 sanitation and hygiene facilities in the North-east, North-central, and South-west regions.
The minister also achieved the domestication of the manufacture of hydrogen sulphide vials at the National Water Quality Reference Laboratory.
The biggest failure of the Ministry of Water Resources is the inability to provide potable and sufficient water to many Nigerians. Despite the goal to have 100 per cent water provision by 2030, water production level in many states is below average.
Nigerians, in local communities still scrounge for water at filthy streams.
The minister has also not been able to achieve the reform of the River Basin Development Authority, while the partial commercialisation which was a way of the revitalisation of the River Basins is still at a pilot stage and yet to yield any results.
There has been no new irrigation project since the return of the minister, while the projects under execution before the end minister’s first tenure are yet to be completed. These includes Hadejia, Kano, and Bakolori irrigation projects.
Some experts that PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter contacted said it is difficult to point out what the minister has achieved.
Other, however, said they are yet to assess the ministry at large and will be unable to make comments.
But Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) said “the ministry doesn’t seem to know what they are supposed to be doing and it is difficult to talk about their performance”.
“I think it is a tragedy when one is asked to evaluate a ministry that doesn’t seem to be on track for whatever mandate it has. Because for me, you want to see a ministry that dissects overacting policy for water management, sustainable use of water resources in the country, doing the act of promoting human right with water, protecting our water bodies from pollution but I just have not seen the ministry in that direction.”
Mr Oluwafemi is an environmental rights activist, who has spearheaded many campaigns in the water sector in Nigeria. He also led the campaign against the privatisation of water in Lagos.
Mr Oluwafemi said asides from the “audio declaration” of emergency in the water sector in 2018, no visible action has been taken.
“There is a need for serious policy direction in the management of our water resources, what we now see is a minister that is now introducing total anarchy in the water sector by way of the current jammed water bill. If that bill comes to pass then what you see is anarchy and commodification of water in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the River Basins authority, Mr Oluwafemi said the minister is now proposing “that Rivers and all water bodies across Nigeria suddenly belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
“Some of us would not score him, we don’t even think there is anything to score,” he said.
Mr Oluwafemi said the minister performed below average and even “woefully.”
“All I can see is a desperate effort to introduce World Bank policy in the water sector forgetting that water is a human right as declared by United Nations. What you hear from that Urban water reform are things like water can no longer be for public service that it is for the private sector (privatization of water) when several cities across the world that have tried privatization of the water sector is turning back.
“Many cities across the world are doing what is now called real municipalization of the water infrastructure, and the minister now is promoting what has randomly failed across the world causing problems in countries.”
Mr Oluwafemi said there is a need for the minister to be called to order and be properly aware of what the sector is all about.